RACC offers pair of tuition-free training programs

READING, Pa. - A federal grant is allowing Reading Area Community College to offer a pair of tuition-free training programs to unemployed and underemployed Berks County residents or incumbent workers.

The school announced the grant from the U.S. Department of Labor on Tuesday, with options for training to become a production technician or a computer numerically controlled (CNC) machine operator.

A production technician certificate is for workers who want enter the manufacturing sector or incumbent workers who want to improve their skills, officials said.

The program will cover technical math, measurement, blueprint reading, mechanical fabrication, electrical fabrication, production assembly, welding, safety practices and regulations, personal protective equipment, communication skills, conflict resolution and working in groups.

The 10-week training will include 200 hours of instruction and hands-on learning. Classes will be filled on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Students who complete the program will be prepared for employment as team assemblers who work in the production of durable goods, with starting wages averaging between $10 and $12 per hour, officials said.

The students will also be qualified to advance to the next credential. of Advanced Manufacturing Integrated Systems Training (AMIST) Level 1 or CNC machine operator.

The CNC machine operator certificate will serve as an entry-level credential for students who want to enter the machining field.

The program will cover print reading; precision measurement and gauging; tool identification, set-up, use and maintenance; fixture set-up and operation; and CNC mill, lathe and grinder set-up, operation, maintenance and troubleshooting, officials said.

The 12-week program will include 160 hours of instruction and hands-on practice. Registrations will be taken weekly and training will begin the following week.

Students who complete the program will be qualified for employment as computer-controlled machine tool operators who operate CNC machines to manufacture parts. Starting wages for such positions are between $14 and 19 per hour, officials said.

Each training program involves a cost for books and consumables for incumbent workers. It's about $400 for the production technician program and $1,100 for CNC machine operator. The unemployed and underemployed may qualify for a scholarship to cover those costs based on financial need.

Acceptance into either program requires a high school diploma/GED and successful completion of the CareerLink WorkKeys assessment.

For more information, contact Bonnie Spayd, the training program director, at 610-607-6207 or

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